Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Theorizing Anti-Racism

Theorizing Anti-Racism: Linkages in Marxism and Critical Race Theories

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 416
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Theorizing Anti-Racism
    Book Description:

    Over the last few decades, critical theory which examines issues of race and racism has flourished. However, most of this work falls on one side or the other of a theoretical divide between theory inspired by Marxist approaches to race and racism and that inspired by postcolonial and critical race theory. Driven by the need to move beyond the divide, the contributors toTheorizing Anti-Racismpresent insightful essays that engage these two intellectual traditions with a focus on clarification and points of convergence.

    The essays inTheorizing Anti-Racismexamine topics which range from reconsiderations of anti-racism in the work of Marx and Foucault to examinations of the relationships among race, class, and the state that integrate both Marxist and critical race theory. Drawing on the most constructive elements of Marxism and postcolonial and critical race theory, this collection constitutes an important contribution to the advancement of anti-racist theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2001-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction

    • 1 Introducing the Questions, Reframing the Dialogue
      (pp. 5-14)

      The aim of this collection is to advance critical scholarship in theorizing race, racism, and anti-racism by recognizing the pivotal importance of both Marxist and critical race theoretical contributions. In past decades, a considerable body of scholarship focused on theorizing race and racism has emerged. While rich in contributions, this scholarship can be characterized by a theoretical divide between Marxist approaches to race and racism and those located in what we suggest is a continuum of critical race and postcolonial frameworks. Important critiques have emerged of both Marxist and critical race writings in this regard. Commonly, Marxists insist that a...

  5. Part I: Rethinking Foucault

    • Introduction to Part I: Foucault and Anti-Racism
      (pp. 17-18)

      We begin this collection with three chapters that examine the influence of Foucault on critical race theory. Indeed, as many have noted, Foucault’s work has resonated with critical race theorists, leading to the characterization that critical race theory and postcolonial theory are antagonistic to Marxism, a view supported by the critiques that Foucault made of Marx and Marxism. In this section, we ask if there are alternate readings of Foucault’s writings that would allow for convergence with a Marxist epistemology. As authors in this section note, the critiques made by Foucault and Foucauldian theorists are often conflated with the critiques...

    • 2 Revisiting Genealogies: Theorizing Anti-Racism beyond the Impasse
      (pp. 19-38)

      My chapter comes out of my intellectual and political history. As a graduate student, I was drawn to Marxism both politically and intellectually. Politically, it seemed to me that central to challenging any form of oppression was the necessity of a praxis that addressed the power of capital, capitalists, and the state. While I identified as a socialist feminist, I was quite aware of the contradictions within such a political and intellectual positionality. Intellectually, I was profoundly engaged with challenging Eurocentric aspects of Marxist development theory. As did many of us who attempted to carry out feminist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist...

    • Introduction to Chapter 3: Foucault in Tunisia
      (pp. 39-40)

      Robert J.C. Young’s chapter “Foucault in Tunisia” is a particularly significant contribution to this volume, as it draws attention to the salience of common misreadings of Foucault. These have been inscribed in the rather more entrenched elements of the debate between Marxism and critical race/postcolonial theories regarding racism and anti-racism. This chapter is reprinted from Young’sPostcolonialism: An Historical Introduction(2001), marking an early contribution to efforts to overcome a polarized debate. Young notes in his book the central premise that “postcolonial theory operates within the historical legacy of Marxist critique,” suggesting this historical role “remains paramount as the fundamental...

    • 3 Foucault in Tunisia
      (pp. 41-62)

      It is not only with respect to discourse that Foucault has been a central theoretical reference point for postcolonial analysis.¹ Whether early or late, so much of Foucault seems to be applicable to the colonial arena – his emphasis on forms of authority and exclusion, for example, his analysis of the operations of the technologies of power, of the apparatuses of surveillance or of governmentality (Bhabha 1994; Scott 1995). Foucault’s own concepts are themselves productive, enabling forms of intellectual power. Even his images are extraordinarily suggestive: take, for example, the description of the ship of fools with whichMadness and...

    • 4 Not Quite a Case of the Disappearing Marx: Tracing the Place of Material Relations in Postcolonial Theory
      (pp. 63-92)

      A pervasive assumption in the many genealogies written about the relationship of Marxism to postcolonial theory is that the two paradigms are polarized and oppositional. For those who work within postcolonial paradigms, postcolonial theory is often seen as contributing to the decline of Marxism. For example, Robert Young, editor ofInterventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studiesnotes, “The rise of postcolonial studies coincides with the end of Marxism as the defining political, cultural and economic objective of much of the third world” (1998, 8). Writers working within a Marxist framework have responded that claims of the demise of Marxism...

  6. Part II: Revisiting Marx

    • Introduction to Part II: Marx and Anti-Racism
      (pp. 95-96)

      In order to disrupt the claim that Marx’s vast body of writing does not offer critical resources with which to study race and racism, this section is comprised of two articles that revisit Marx’s work in order to propose alternative, and arguably more accurate, readings. Notably, such a claim can overlook the number of critical race theorists who work within a Marxist framework. In this section, we look at two such theorists. First, Abigail B. Bakan, in a chapter titled “Marxism and Anti-Racism: Rethinking the Politics of Difference,” reconsiders the core concepts of Marx. She stresses that while exploitation has...

    • 5 Marxism and Anti-Racism: Rethinking the Politics of Difference
      (pp. 97-122)

      An extensive literature on the politics of difference now exists, inspired largely by the philosophical debates between what has generically come to be called “postmodernism” and Marxism. Anti-oppression theorists, including critical race and postcolonial scholars, have embraced recognition of difference as a theoretical and methodological starting point, often seen as a welcome corrective to a perceived economic reductionism associated with Marxism (Saul 2003; Solomos and Back 1999). This chapter¹ suggests that the divide between Marxism and anti-racist theory informed by the politics of difference needs to be reconsidered. There are, arguably, far more grounds for commonality than may be apparent...

    • Introduction to Chapter 6: Marxism and Anti-Racism: Reflections and Interpretations
      (pp. 123-126)

      Himani Bannerji is one of the earliest critical theorists in Canada and internationally to turn her attention systematically to anti-racism, integrating Marxist and feminist theory as foundational to the project. In addition to her substantive body of literary works, she has published an influential and substantial corpus of writings over several decades, including “Introducing Racism: Notes Toward an Anti-Racist Feminism” (1987);Writing on the Wall: Essays on Culture and Politics(1993);Thinking Through: Essays on Feminism, Marxism and Anti-Racism(1995);The Dark Side of the Nation: Essays on Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender(2000); andInventing Subjects: Studies in Hegemony, Patriarchy...

    • 6 Marxism and Anti-Racism in Theory and Practice: Reflections and Interpretations
      (pp. 127-142)

      Enakshi dua (ed) and abigail b. bakan (ab):

      You have said that you have three political and intellectual commitments: as a Marxist, a feminist, and an anti-racist.¹ And you have commented that these political and analytical commitments are stated separately due to a lack of integrative language in the intellectual and political terrains in which we live. Could you describe the intellectual and political processes that have contributed to such theoretical separations and how you see their linkages?

      Himani bannerji (hb):

      I will answer by reflecting on the framework I use to understand the complex world around me that I...

  7. Part III: Legacies and Relationships

    • Introduction to Part III: Legacies of, and Relationships among, Key Anti-Racist Thinkers
      (pp. 145-147)

      Marxism is often narrowly associated with writers located in the West; even among key contributors in the West, writers of colour are often neglected. However, since Marx and Engels wrote their classic texts, many theorists from the global South and writers of colour – including Naoroji, M.N. Roy, Amilcar Cabral, C.L.R. James, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Frantz Fanon – have been central to advancing the Marxist tradition in critical dialogue with Marx’s writings. Collectively, these writers raise important questions regarding the approach of Marx and Engels to non-European societies and processes of colonialism, and point to the scarcity of attention...

    • 7 C.L.R. James and W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Jacobins and Black Reconstruction, Writing Heresy and Revisionist Histories
      (pp. 148-183)

      Two figures whose writings and political practices are increasingly being recognized as central to twentieth century radical political thought are C.L.R. James and W.E.B. Du Bois.¹ However, much of this recognition is still within the framework of, and is conventionally considered as, the marginal black and anticolonial experience.² In this essay, grounded mainly in two texts by James and Du Bois –The Black JacobinsandBlack Reconstruction, respectively – I will explore how the practice of writing a radical revisionist history constitutes “heresy” and what that might mean for a black radical understanding of the twentieth century world. These...

    • 8 Colonizing, Colonized: Sartre and Fanon
      (pp. 184-204)

      One of the most intense conversations to have explored the themes of Marxism, racism, and anti-racism occurred between Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon during the decades after World War II. Their exchanges were to change forever and dramatically our understanding of how racism works and, in particular, how colonialism, racism, and anti-imperialism conspire and combine in different ways during different historical contexts to renew and refresh one another. Both stand as founding figures of and seminal thinkers in the burgeoning fields of racial and ethnic studies and postcolonial studies. Moreover, it is possible to argue that between them Sartre and...

    • 9 Intellectuals, Oppression, and Anti-Racist Movements in South Africa
      (pp. 205-246)

      The objective of this chapter is to explore the contributions of intellectuals to anti-oppression struggles and movements, drawing on examples from South Africa. The first section offers conceptual foundations, which draw upon analytical insights from thinkers associated with postcolonial and historical materialist scholarly traditions.¹ In terms of postcolonial thought, the section engages with the work of Frantz Fanon. From the historical materialist tradition, it draws on the work of Antonio Gramsci. The section also discusses some limitations of these thinkers by incorporating insights from feminist thought and highlighting the contributions of women intellectuals, such as Fatima Meer, to anti-racist struggles....

  8. Part IV: Interventions in Race, Class, and State

    • Introduction to Part IV: New Interventions in Intersections of Race, Class, and State
      (pp. 249-251)

      This fourth and final section of the volume attempts to move the conversation forward, suggesting examples of theorizations that address the relationships among race, class, and the state in new ways. The aim is to reconfigure the questions and move beyond historic tensions. Critiques that Hall and Gilroy have made of Marxism are that it conflates class with race, ignores whiteness, and fails to examine the relationship between culture and political economy. A common critique raised by Marxists of postcolonial/critical race theory is that it fails to centre materiality, political economy, and the state. The chapters in the following section...

    • 10 Race, Class, and Colonialism: Reconsidering the “Jewish Question”
      (pp. 252-279)

      In this chapter,¹ the Jewish question is revisited, considered in the context of race, class, and colonialism – concepts central to both a consistent Marxist and an anti-racist analysis. The argument considers the role of Zionism in the transition of Jewishness from non-white to a specific form of whiteness, what I term “whiteness by permission,” in the post–World War II, Western geopolitical context. This analysis is informed by an engagement with both Marxist and postcolonial literatures that have attempted to problematize the intersection of political economy and ideology, grounded in specific contexts that generate and reproduce relations of power....

    • 11 Race, Sovereignty, and Empire: Theorizing the Camp, Theorizing Postmodernity
      (pp. 280-310)

      The US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan raise politically urgent questions about the ways in which sovereignty is being reshaped within global politics. Given that the colonial order of the nineteenth and (mid) twentieth centuries was predicated on the sovereign status of Euro-American nation-states and the subjugation of the colonized world, and given that race was central to colonial projects of these earlier centuries, what do these “new” invasions reveal about the relation between race, colonialism, and sovereign power? In this chapter, I explore a number of critical questions raised by the “War on Terror.” First, what do the invasions...

    • 12 Rethinking Whiteness, “Culturalism,” and the Bourgeoisie in the Age of Neoliberalism
      (pp. 311-339)

      In thinking about the relationship of race and class, there is an urgent need to historicize and contextualize race-thinking in the present, to take account of its complexity and contradictions in the post–Cold War era of neoliberal globalism. This chapter investigates the analytical possibilities offered by pushing the boundaries of the concept of whiteness “beyond race.” Arguing that class under neoliberalism is increasingly conceptualized in racialized and culturalized terms, the chapter analyses the new meanings and formations of “whiteness” emerging in different parts of the world. In the world that emerged after the Cold War, post-socialism and post–Third...

    • 13 Race and the Management of Labour in United States History
      (pp. 340-376)

      John R. Commons, the staid liberal reformer who founded academic labour history in the United States, and Ernest Riebe, the funny, fighting cartoonist of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), doubtless had very little in common politically. Commons supported American Federation of Labor–style unionism, worrying when its limited social goals strayed beyond collective bargaining. Riebe offered IWW publications the adventures of Mr. Block, the clueless, conformist anti-hero whose misadventures showed just how much misplaced faith in the beneficence of capitalists, politicians, and police that workers would have to shed to make a revolution. And yet Riebe and Commons...

  9. Afterword
    (pp. 377-382)

    Our aim in the preceding chapters has been, as stated in the introduction, to revisit, reframe, and extend critical analysis of racism and anti-racism, drawing on the most constructive elements of Marxist and critical race/postcolonial theoretical tools. Central to this endeavour is recognition of historic tensions between these major critical currents. Notably, the purpose of the volume is not to address all the various elements of these tensions, nor to provide a single overarching explanation. In fact, our framework begins with the recognition of multiple sites of contention – some grounded in creative diversity and varying points of emphasis, others...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 383-388)
  11. Index
    (pp. 389-407)